Film Scouts Reviews

"Anna Karenina"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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"Anna Karenina" is the classic when it comes to romance and affairs of the heart. But this being written by Leo Tolstoy and not Aaron Spelling, it moves at a slower, PBS sort of pace. Everything about it is nonetheless beautiful. Anna is a beautiful young and married aristocrat whose empty love life is filled by the dashing Count Vronsky. Of course, I adored Sean Bean as Count Vronsky. It was Bean's ability to carry off the nineteenth century military uniform in the PBS series "Sharpe's Rifles" that got him noticed for this role as aristocrat and officer. I was surprised to find that this was the same guy who was thoroughly hate-able as the villain in "Patriot Games" and as 006 in "Goldeneye". Because she had worked so wonderfully with him on "Braveheart", Mel Gibson recommended Sophie Marceau for the title role. Mel should have gotten a casting credit for involving all the people he has worked with previously. It was his Icon Productions that green lighted the film.

The desperate love of Vronsky and Karenina is juxtaposed to that of their friends, Levin and Kitty. It is said that Levin is the closest to being an autobiographical character for Tolstoy and his is the most sensitive. Levin is portrayed by Alfred Molina and he gives one of the film's highlights when he wordlessly displays his inability to comprehend his wife's anguish during birth and her almost immediate outpouring of love when their child is born. Alfred Molina can play absolutely anything and recently has. When I caught up with him in New York, he said that he wants his next role to be on a cruise ship, where he "gets to sleep a lot." In case you can't place him, he was the Mexican hunting Mel Gibson in "Maverick", the guide who tried to bargain with Harrison Ford in the rolling rock scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", a scientist in the recent "Species" and is the haunted, jaded Levin.. As each character deals with finding their life's purpose, Levin's that is the most obvious and Anna's the most touching.

If you are a true film buff, you have to go see this just because Danny Huston plays the role of Anna's brother, Stiva. This is writer/director Huston's first speaking role so he can now add 'actor' to his resume just as his father, the legendary John Huston, did. Or you could go see it because it is the first Western film to be made entirely in post-Soviet Russia. The architecture and scenery is worth it. When Kitty enters the ballroom through ornate hall after ornate hall, you know this isn't a sound stage. This is the real thing! Yes, the PBS pacing doesn't do much for my MTV attention span, but try to sit back, enjoy the train ride. Rated R. Warner Bros.

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